Notes: Here's a disturbing trend for the 2002 Nissan Altima: the engine starts burning oil like crazy, the catalytic converter goes bad, the head gasket blows and eventually the entire engine needs replacement. Sound familiar? Like a script from a horror film, these Altimas seem doomed to fail around 95k miles.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
116,873 miles
Total Complaints:
63 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (31 reports)
  2. replace engine and cat. converter (30 reports)
  3. remove the pre cat (2 reports)
2003 Nissan Altima engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 2 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #43

Mar 292011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles


I thought my mechanic had ruined my car. No. Its using 2 quarts of oil every 4 days now. Fix it or not is the question. I just paid it off and thought I would be driving it for a couple of years,. That's not going to happen now.

- , Broken Arrow, OK, USA

problem #42

Mar 292011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

This car is a piece of junk. Changing the engine out doesn't seem to stop the problems.

- , Broken Arrow, OK, USA

problem #41

Mar 282011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

I thought my mechanic had left the oil out when changing my oil. Put 5 1/2 qts in two weeks later. It's just gotten worse. Took my good reliable car on road trip. Used 10 qts of oilo over 1600 miles. Now I'm putting 2 qts in every four days.

Just paid my car off in November and it's a piece of junk. Do I fix it or not? It doesn't seem like that fixes it either. Thought I would drive it a coupe of years before having to but a new one. That's not going to happen.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

- , Broken Arrow, OK, USA

problem #40

Sep 012011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 95,000 miles


Same as everyone else. (sigh) I made the rookie mistake of making a quick purchase b/c I had a good impression of Altimas and this one seemed like a decent deal. Wish I'd researched it a little more before diving in.

- , Wateroo, Ontario, canada

problem #39

Jun 032011

Altima SE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

Thanks to all of the other posts on this subject. My car was great until 100K miles, then starting burning oil. I put it in to keep up, eventually the engine light came on and then the loss of heat. Now it runs rougher than H. I made an appt to have it diagnosed

this coming MON, but after reading all the good posts; I'm S***-canning it.

I too was expecting 200K miles, very disappointing!

- , Lowell, MA, USA

problem #38

May 102011

Altima 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

I keep having to fill the oil, I went to the shop because of a completely different problem and had them put a sensor on the oil gauge.. The oil light still blinks when I start it. Took it to the dealership yesterday they say they fixed it. Well, then why is it still acting up today?

- , London, OH, USA

problem #37

Sep 282011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 151,000 miles


My Nissan Altima 2003 S 2.5 recently flickered an oil light so I pulled into a gas station and checked the oil. The oil was bone dry. I put in four quarts. 4 days later I checked it again and again bone dry. I took it to a mechanic who said "these Nissan engines are faulty" and described the catalytic converter failure which effects the piston rings. I then brought it to another mechanic who said it's the piston rings. I then brought the car to a third mechanic who said "these Nissans have been known to be faulty for years 2002 to 2006" and he went on to say that "Nissan should stand by their product". I figured I would get at least 200k out of this car. I am really pissed off that I have to either pay 5000 for a new engine or trade the car in to have more money tacked on to my loan. I'LL NEVER BUY A NISSAN AGAIN.

- , Morristown, NJ, USA

problem #36

Sep 072011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 193,000 miles

What and do they have a class action lawsuit against nissan for failed engines?

- , Modesto, CA, US

problem #35

Jul 032010

Altima 2.6L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

Have a 2003 Nissan Altima what went down hill quickly. Went to Nissan before my warranty expired with this burning oil problem. Paid $120.00 for a diagnoses, they claimed nothing was wrong with car. Months later car acted up and brought it to my own mechanic who told me there was an engine recall on this car. Went back again a while later. Again another diagnostic test and $120.00 for them to tell the engine has an internal engine malfunction to wait awhile and come back in a few weeks. Well went back probably 3 months later they did another test $120 down the drain for them to inform me so sorry "YOUR WARRANTY EXPIRED." why didn't they tell me that in the first place. NISSAN DOES NOT STAND BEHIND THEIR PRODUCTS. So now I am stuck with a Nissan Altima 2033 with 92,000 I can't afford to have replaced. Now after reading what others have said about their Nissan's after getting a new engine will not invest any more money into this vehicle. Will find a junk box and put put around.

- , Belleville, NJ, USA

problem #34

Jun 012011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I have a 2003 Altima that I loved when I first bought it in 2007. In around 2009 I noticed that I was using oil in my car when I would have a horrible noise coming from the engine and when I checked it I would have no oil in the car. So I just continued to put oil in the car as I needed to, which seemed to be every other day. Finally the car seemed to be getting worse and worse. The idle was off, it was trying to die on me all the time, was making ticking sounds along with many others from the engine. So I called the Nissan dealer and their solution was a new engine. Well in July of 2011 I finally had to break down and get the engine put in the car. It drove good for maybe three days, then it started idling rough again, and when I randomly checked the oil in it on the third or fourth day, imagine that, it was bone dry... After this my engine light came on, the code flashed for the cat converter. So then both cat converters and O2 sensors were replaced. My car then ran good for two days. It was trying to die on me all the time and idling rough once again but the oil was doing ok. About two weeks after the cat converter was replaced I checked the oil and it was....BONE DRY.... Now once again I am stuck putting oil in my car every other day and it drives like crap. What is a person suppose to do?? Never again will I buy a Nissan.

- , Hawesville, KY, USA

problem #33

Mar 062011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,264 miles


Check engine light went on and car running rough. Took it for an oil change but could still smell an odor when starting up the car. Took it in to my reliable mechanic who tells me my oil is down 2 days after oil change. Suggested a new engine. Did my research on line and found many of the same complaints, same symptoms for the 2003. Called nissan Canada and waited 7 weeks for them to investigate. The answer: warranty up, can't do anything for me. So much for standing behind their obviously defective product. This was my 4th and last Nissan and last. Cheaper to drive it to the scrap yard at this point.

- , Toronto, Ontario, canada

problem #32

Apr 102011

Altima GXE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,410 miles

i bought this Altima in 2008 i loved the car until now i had my oil changed every 5to 6 thousand km. never had a problem until now i changed the oil on march 28/11 on April 10/11 my wife took the car out and called me saying the car was ticking real bad i told her to turn it off and would be right over i checked the oil and there was no reading on the dipstick so i filled it and took it back to mechanic who changed the oil and told him the problem he checked for leaks but there was none so i called nissan they said to try a high mileage engine oil so i paid for another oil change but now it smokes like crazy so i went on the internet to check out what the problem could be i was floored when i seen how many people had almost the exact same problem if i had of went to this site before i bought the car i wouldn't be home with out a car now i guess Japanese cars are only good to look at now that i need a new car i will be more diligent searching for the best backed car as for nissan shame on you for stealing hard working peoples money do the right thing and fix the problem at no cost to the customer and rebuild your reputation you might get some of these hundreds of customers buying a new nissan thank you to auto beef for allowing me to vent my frustrations p.s. i would like to know about any class action law suits e-mail me at

- , Lr. Sackville, N.S, Canada

problem #31

Apr 012011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

I bought this car one year ago used. I loved it.... Until it started burning oil and have been fighting with Nissan ever since all they will do is split the cost to fix it with me or a 1,000.00 credit towards my purchase. I still owe 7800 on the car. Why would I ever buy a car from Nissan EVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Bear, DE, USA

problem #30

Feb 092009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Our 2003 Nissan Altima was in need of repairs. The oil level was constantly low and I needed to add at least 1 quart per week. The car would shake and at times turn off at a stop light; embarrassing, or not even turn on. We began to notice this a lot... The check engine light was on... One day it began to smoke a lot and I mean a lot, through the tail pipe. We took it in and the mechanic took the engine apart and said that the pistons were twisted; odd. He said the cause was the oil level being low and it was burning a lot, because of engine trouble. But I kept on top of it and never let it get bad... I repaired the car under the extended warranty. But shortly after the check engine light came back. About a year or so later the same problem occurred only not as bad, but it still cost us $1100, not under warranty; out of pocket. During this time the check engine light kept turning on no matter how many times the mechanic reset it. The car burns a lot oil and this last time, I checked the oil and it was fine and the next day the car was burning oil like crazy, I checked the oil level and it was 3 quarts low... I took the car in last Friday and the mechanic said that the car needed a new engine. How is this possible, when just 3 years ago the engine was completely over-hauled...?!!! Our family has owned Nissan's in the past and never had any major problems, but this Altima has been a nightmare... I will never again buy a Nissan because of this issue, I don't want to risk it happening again. P.S.... I trust the mechanic with my life; he's my father, and he has a great reputation in the community.

- , Ventura, CA, USA

problem #29

Oct 102007

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

I bought this car used in 07 with 65,000 miles on it. Within a couple months, I noticed the oil was always low and I needed to add oil in between oil changes. Being a sales person and driving A LOT every year, I seem to always be in my car driving. As of Dec 2010, I have 185,000+ miles on.. It does still run, but I have to add a quart OR TWO every thousand miles.. That is once a week or more for me! NOT CONVENIENT AT ALL!

The check engine has been on forever, but the car has not ever lost power.. But I'm definitely afraid the day I'm on a sales call in the middle of nowhere when the engine finally goes.. If Nissan is aware of oil consumption issues, it should make things right will all the Nissan customers ready to switch car makers!

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #28

Jan 192011

Altima SL 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,274 miles

2003 Nissan Altima Absolutlyyyyyyy ridiculous.

First engine started shaking and car kept shutting down when i would slow down or idle. Then i noticed Oil getting eaten up literally everyday i would have to put in oil. Took it to the Mechanic he said Catalytic converter... so i had that fixed $900. Then 2 weeks later the shaking and stalling and oil consumption CONTINUED. Brought it to mechanic he told me CRANKSHAFT SENSOR - $200. Didn't change a thing car kept eating oil ,shaking , stalling. NOWWW.. I took it to my mechanic he said engines saturated in oil all seals , spark plugs , coils need to be replace. This one costing me $1100. This is ridiculous how many of the same Stories are on this page i will NEVERRRR in a hundred years buy another Nissan. I just want to know and need your help. After fixing this last issue will there be something else? Am i just throwing my money at this car? Should i just cut my loses ? Please someone who has went threw this reply to me before i spend this 1100

- , Toronto, Ontario, canada

problem #27

Nov 012010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles



Update from Aug 24, 2011: I am finding out that Nissan Corp was aware of the problem being a pin in the catalytic converter that eventually breaks loose and goes in and scores the cylinder walls-if your Altima revamped the catalytic converter to have a screen like shield to prevent the pin from going into the motor and get this......Nissan will do ABSOLUTELY nothing about it so you can replace your catalytic converter but you will eventually have to replace the motor because the damage is done!!! AND beware of replacement motors because they could have the same defect and you will be like me.....on the third motor and still have to put a quart of oil in it per week!

No more Nissan cars for me.....I am done and I have yet to find an attorney that will take my case and Nissan still denies any wrongdoing!!!!! Good Luck Everyone :(

- , Bethalto, IL, USA

problem #26

Mar 042010

Altima 3.5SE 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,119 miles

Auto beef is good at lest we know that hows other car perform before buy car... thanx to all of your team...harjinder singh

- , Lassalle, QC, Canada

problem #25

May 012010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Don't ever ever ever buy a Nissan Altima it is the worst car in the world. Not only is it the worst car in the world the staff at the Nissan Dealers are all CROOKS they no what the problem is with the car they act like their there to help you and in the end their just there to pamper you and take your money. I am so PISSED right now about my car and being suckered into investing in a car that i thought was going to be fixed and come to find out not only did they not fix my problem for the third time everytime i went back they kept finding other thing wrong with the car.I could have saved myself a few grand and went out and brought me a new car...Im am going to complain about this to everyone i know and i mean everyone theY should not be able to get away with this...someone needs tO compensate me for my lost of time and money spent and for all the lies that were told to me to get my hard earned money. I WILL NEVER EVER BUY ANOTHER NISSAN CAR AGAIN IN LIFE OR RECOMMEND IT TO ANY FRIENDS FOE OR RELATIVES YOU CAN BELIEVE THAT....P.S F--U NISSAN U ASSHOLES.....

- , Valley Stream, NY, USA

problem #24

Aug 102010

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

Same as everyone else. Had sensor failing a few years ago. fixed in 6 months before the 2003 model was included in the recall. then the manifold was leaking. fixed that. Now it is eating oil like crazy. no idea where to go from here.

- , Chula Vista, CA, USA

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